Steamships of the Iowa Great Lakes
The Lakes Region was settled in the 1850's. By 1884, small towns had developed and two railroads: The Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern; and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Pal laid tracks into the area. As hotels were built around the lakes, swing bridges were constructed to facilitate steamboat navigation.
The communities, hotels and individual cottage owners required a dependable means of transportation in the road-poor area. To meet this demand, the railroads built steamships that ran on schedules coinciding with the arrival and departure of the trains.
Many steamships were required. Small craft ran service from West Okoboji Lake to the Orleans Hotel located on the isthmus between Spirit Lake and East Okoboji Lake. The larger ships operated mostly on West Okoboji Lake. Individuals wanting a ride waved a white flag or towel signaling the steamship to stop at their dock.
By world War I, roads of better quality were constructed and the need for steamships diminished. The steamship Okoboji was removed from service in 1922. By the 1930's, the last two smaller steamships, the Des Moines and the Sioux City, had been retired.
With the development of roads around the lakes, the Queen became an excursion boat instead of a transportation boat, prolonging her career until 1973 when she was removed from service.
In 1986, the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum, a not-for-profit organization, solicited donations to construct the Queen II, a replica of the 1884 Queen. The beloved tradition of steamship excursions on West Okoboji Lake continues.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Parks & Recreational Areas • Railroads & Streetcars • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1884.
Location. 43° 22.031′ N, 95° 8.199′ W. Marker is in Arnolds Park, Iowa, in Dickinson County. Marker is on Lake Street 0.2 miles north of Okoboji Grove Road. Located on a pier on the West Lake Okoboji. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 37 Lake Street, Arnolds Park IA 51331, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. American Indians & Settlers (a few steps from this marker); A Glacial Gift (a few steps from this marker); The Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum (a few steps from this marker); Massacre Monument (approx. ¼ mile away).
Credits. This page was last revised on November 2, 2019. It was originally submitted on November 2, 2019, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 109 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 2, 2019, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.